A testy tug of war between a World Bank-funded NGO and the government of Balochistan over distribution of funds has threatened a vast educational project

The Balochistan Educational Support Projects (BESP) – with a World Bank input of $22 million – has established a network of 649 community schools in the last five years. The schools established under a private-public partnership are community-driven, with administrative tasks such as the appointment of teachers done by the community itself.
Things had been going well: at the moment the network has established schools in all 30 districts of the province, meeting its ambitious enrollment targets. The project has managed to enroll more than 47,000 children, out of which 41% are girls, while as many as 197 private low cost schools were also brought under the programme.
The project has a financial commitment from the Balochistan government of nine per cent of the total cost till its completion, along with indefinite post-project recurrent costs. According to the contract the Balochistan government will provide funds for salaries and maintenance for the community schools.
However, the Balochistan government has now stopped funding non-salary expenditures of the schools, which has rendered these schools vulnerable to closure.
The root of the problem between the BESP and the provincial government is the construction of these 649 schools, which the Balochistan government had proposed to be taken up by the Communications and Works (C&W) department. Fearing corruption, BESP balked and wants to give the money to communities which these schools serve.
Out of $22 million, the BESP has spent $11 million on the establishment of the community schools, while the rest is allocated for construction.
“The bedrock of our difference with the Balochistan government is the construction of buildings of these schools. We have decided to channel the funds to communities to construct these buildings while the government is telling us to do it through C&W department,” said Shabbir Ahmad, Manager Monitoring and Evaluation for BESP.
“For us corruption is the main fear. If we had to hand over the funds to the provincial government then our schools would also become like public schools and community factor will vanish,” said Shabbir.

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